Small Wars Journal
  • “The Vietnam War was arguably the most traumatic experience for the United States in the twentieth century. That is indeed a grim distinction in a span that included two world wars, the assassinations of two presidents and the resignation of another, the Great Depression, the Cold War, racial unrest, and the drug and crime waves.”
    -- Donald M. Goldstein
  • “Tunnel systems and irregular urban warfare are essentially advanced methods of cover and concealment. Given that the mission of the infantry is to “locate, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver,” if the enemy can prevent us from locating him or closing with him, it will be nearly impossible for us to destroy him.”
    -- William Birdzell
  • "It is always dangerous for soldiers, sailors or airmen to play at politics. They enter a sphere in which values are quite different from those to which they have hitherto been accustomed"
    -- Winston Churchill
  • “For Dave Dilegge and Bill Nagle, founders and editors of Small Wars Journal. They gave the counterguerrilla underground a home, at a time when misguided leaders banned even the word ‘insurgency,’ though busily losing to one. Scholars, warriors, and agitators, Dave and Bill laid the foundation for battlefield success: our generation owes them a debt of gratitude.”
    -- David Kilcullen ('Counterinsugency' Dedication)
  • “With no other security forces on hand, U.S. military was left to confront, almost alone, an Iraqi insurgency and a crime rate that grew worse throughout the year, waged in part by soldiers of the disbanded army and in part by criminals who were released from prison.”
    -- John Spratt

Home, Above Feeds, Annoucement



Now available at Amazon - Blood and Concrete: 21st Century Conflict in Urban Centers and Megacities provides a foundation for understanding urban operations and sustaining urban warfare research. This Small Wars Journal (SWJ) Anthology documents over a decade of writings on urban conflict. In addition to essays originally published at SWJ it adds new content including an introduction by the editors, a preface on “Blood and Concrete” by David Kilcullen, a foreword "Urban Warfare Studies" by John Spencer, a postscript “Cities in the Crossfire: The Rise of Urban Violence” by Margarita Konaev, and an afterword “Urban Operations: Meeting Challenges, Seizing Opportunities, Improving the Approach” by Russell W. Glenn. These essays frame the discussion found in the collection’s remaining 49 chapters. Blood and Concrete continues the legacy of Small Was Journal's coverage of urban operations, conflict and combat. - Dave Dilegge, Robert J. Bunker, John P. Sullivan, and Alma Keshavarz, Editors.


Funeral Honors - Soldiers assigned to the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as “The Old Guard,” participate in military funeral honors for Army Cpl. Earl H. Markle at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Dec. 10, 2019. Markle went missing on 2 November 1950 near Unsan, North Korea. His remains were recovered in 2018 and accounted for in 2019. U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser.

"Small wars are operations undertaken under executive authority, wherein military force is combined with diplomatic pressure in the internal or external affairs of another state whose government is unstable, inadequate, or unsatisfactory for the preservation of life and of such interests as are determined by the foreign policy of our Nation."

-- Small Wars Manual, 1940

Small Wars Journal publishes original works from authentic voices across the spectrum of stakeholders in small wars. We also link you to relevant goings on elsewhere.  Login with your SWJ Username to comment, or Register, it's free. You can start your own threads in the Small Wars Council discussion board, but note that the board requires a separate Council Username. Follow SWJ on Twitter @smallwars.

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by Jonathan Fagins | Sat, 12/14/2019 - 5:00pm | 0 comments
In the book "Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present", Max Boot provides an insightful look into conflicts where revolutionary movements and guerrilla forces out-maneuver and out-strategize conventional armies that are exceptionally larger.
by Pasar Sherko | Fri, 12/13/2019 - 10:10am | 0 comments
Abu Ibrahim al Hashimi al-Qurayshi is a new alias for ISIL’s new leader designed to obscure his identityand prevent targeting by counter-terrorism forces. There is a good chance that Amir Muhammed Sa’eed al-Mawla, also known as Hajji Abdullah al-‘Afri, is the new ISIL emir. This article explains what this succession means for ISIL and the world, and what we can glean from the announcement of the new leader.
by Robert Bunker | Thu, 12/12/2019 - 5:53pm | 0 comments
"Gangs and Organized Crime" is a major new book effort—aimed primarily at the university book market—by veteran authors and gang specialists George W. Knox, Gregg W. Etter, and Carter F. Smith.
by Andrew Shaughnessy | Thu, 12/12/2019 - 3:49am | 0 comments
Against the backdrop of a generation of Soldiers who grew up tethered to smartphones, the Army remains rigidly analog in many of its systems. While there are numerous potential examples of how smartphone applications could make Army systems more accessible, few seem as immediately viable for disruption as unit maintenance.
by Thomas A. Drohan | Thu, 12/12/2019 - 3:02am | 0 comments
Complex warfare is high stakes competition in learning, and the United States is being out-thought and out-fought by China. Why is this so, and what can we do about it?
by Kevin Duffy | Wed, 12/11/2019 - 5:33am | 0 comments
That the practice of human trafficking—with its concomitants of forced labor and sexual exploitation—is alive and well in the contemporary world is a shocking fact, one that strikes at the conscience and stretches credulity (can this really still be happening in the twenty-first century?). That said, cases involving the practice are regularly laid bare for all to see.
by Hesham Youssef | Wed, 12/11/2019 - 5:10am | 0 comments
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has fallen down the list of political priorities in recent years as regional and global powers have been preoccupied with more pressing issues—including tensions with Iran; wars in Syria, Yemen and Libya; unrest in Lebanon, Iraq and Algeria; the rise of intestate competition, including with Russia and China, in the region; and a host of internal issues affecting the countries of the region. The conflict, however, has not gone away.
by Travis Zahnow | Tue, 12/10/2019 - 10:23am | 0 comments
In "Why American Loses Wars", Professor Donald Stoker, Fulbright Scholar and academic, persuasively argues warfare has changed over the last 75 years and the United States no longer knows how to approach war correctly. As a country, our over reliance on limited war and a failure to adequately conclude with them has left us incapable of winning, forever mired in endless wars.
by Irina Tsukerman | Tue, 12/10/2019 - 9:21am | 0 comments
… All of this leads to the reasonable conclusion that not only was Qatar likely informed by Iran about the plan to attack the Aramco sites in September, but likely had coordinated with Iran and helped make it happen smoothly.
by Octavian Manea | Mon, 12/09/2019 - 3:34am | 3 comments
SWJ interview (Part II) with Nathaniel L. Moir, Ph.D., an Ernest May Postdoctoral Fellow in History and Policy at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School. Dr. Moir is completing a book manuscript on Bernard Fall for publication.

Blog Posts

by The Tampa Bay Times | Sun, 12/15/2019 - 7:06am | 0 comments
"Eighteen years after the invasion of Afghanistan, the same question faces people touched by the war in Tampa and nationwide: What now?"
by Military Times | Sun, 12/15/2019 - 5:44am | 0 comments
"Secretary of Defense Mark Esper wants to drastically expand the foreign military training program despite fallout stemming from the deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, that claimed the lives of three service members and wounded eight others."
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Sat, 12/14/2019 - 3:23pm | 0 comments
"The Trump administration plans to publish a new U.S. strategy for Central Asia as China and Russia fight for influence in the energy-rich region and militants from Afghanistan threaten to destabilize it, a senior State Department official has said."
by USNI News | Fri, 12/13/2019 - 5:20am | 0 comments
"A dozen members of Saudi Arabia’s military remain restricted to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., as federal investigators continue gathering information about last week’s mass shooting on base, Pentagon officials said on Thursday."
by Military Times | Thu, 12/12/2019 - 8:12pm | 0 comments
"Another bloody year of fighting in Afghanistan is almost in the books as peace negotiations between the U.S. and Taliban seek an end to America’s longest war. But Pentagon officials won’t provide any metrics to highlight whether Afghan forces made any battlefield progress in their fight against the Taliban and other militants across the country in 2019."
by Defense News | Thu, 12/12/2019 - 7:26pm | 0 comments
"Congress wants the Air Force to consider transferring some funding allocated for light attack planes to U.S. Special Operations Command — a provision that could allow the service to quietly quash its light attack efforts and allow SOCOM to step in to run a program of record."
by Associated Press | Wed, 12/11/2019 - 9:32pm | 0 comments
"The Pentagon is considering several options to reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan, including one that would shift to a narrower counterterrorism mission, the top U.S. military officer told Congress on Wednesday."
by Military Times | Wed, 12/11/2019 - 7:37pm | 0 comments
"A series of airstrikes were called in following a failed attempt by the Taliban to breach Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, on Wednesday, according to a Resolute Support spokesman."
by Associated Press | Wed, 12/11/2019 - 6:51am | 0 comments
"Afghanistan’s former president argued Tuesday that Washington helped fuel corruption in his nation by spending hundreds of millions of dollars over the past two decades without accountability."
by The New York Times | Wed, 12/11/2019 - 6:31am | 0 comments
"American commanders have requested guidance on dealing with an attack from those armed groups and others from Iran and the Syrian government, but officials say they have received muddled direction."
by National Public Radio | Tue, 12/10/2019 - 9:45am | 0 comments
NPR's Audie Cornish talks with Douglas Lute, former Afghan War czar for the Bush and Obama administrations, about a Washington Post report, which claims the public wasn't told the truth about the war effort.
by Military Times | Tue, 12/10/2019 - 8:38am | 0 comments
"The outgoing Pentagon senior enlisted adviser and his incoming replacement weighed in on reporting Monday that military leaders have been misleading the American people about the direction and success of the war in Afghanistan since within months of U.S. troops hitting the ground in October 2001, roundly denying that they ever felt lied to about the mission and touting the progress the country has made in the intervening years."
by Voice of America | Tue, 12/10/2019 - 7:52am | 0 comments
"Russian and Ukrainian leaders agreed to implement a ceasefire and a prisoners' swap by years end, following four-way talks in Paris on Monday that also included France and Germany."
by Keith Nightingale | Mon, 12/09/2019 - 11:01pm | 0 comments
I found a foto today and it brought back a lot of memories as well as a reflection on life in general and how much life is just an agglomeration of luck and timing. Fortunate and unfortunate are mere millimeters of time and whimsical at best.
by The New York Times | Mon, 12/09/2019 - 10:01pm | 0 comments
"All told, the cost of nearly 18 years of war in Afghanistan will amount to more than $2 trillion. Was the money well spent?"